VIDEO: Autonomous Robot to Patrol Texas Airport

K5 fully autonomous outdoor security robot | Images by Knightscope

After obtaining a green light from the city council, San Antonio International Airport will see an autonomous robot used on its premises to help with security.

Standing at 5 feet 4 inches and weighing in at 420 pounds, the robot called “K5” can travel three miles per hour and will be used to monitor door alarm incidents on the premises, said the city’s director of airports, Jesus Saenz, reported The Guardian.

The San Antonio city council approved the 12-month trial of K5 at a rental cost of $21,000 in a 7 to 3 vote on February 22. K5 is expected to debut at the airport within the next two months and is being rented from Knightscope, an autonomous security robotics company based in California, per The Guardian.

Knightscope said K5 can run “24/7 on its own” and recharge “without any human intervention,” according to its website. The robot “is best suited for securing large, outdoor spaces through the winters of the Northeast and the summers of the South.”

Using 360-degree video shot at eye-level, K5 will respond to door alarms, snapping an image of the person who triggered it. The image will be relayed to the airport’s central command center, where it will be determined whether the person is allowed to gain entry.

For his part, Saenz insists the new autonomous robot will not be used for surveillance.

“Daily, we have door alarms that are opened inappropriately, inaccurately, or by accident, and it requires a response, based on the federal regulations that we have to adhere to, to maintain an overall security posture of the airport,” Saenz said, according to the San Antonio Report.

Not everyone favors K5, like San Antonio Council Member Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, who was one of the three dissenting votes. McKee-Rodriguez said the technology raises “concern about privacy, surveillance, and racial profiling throughout the country,” reported KSAT.

The New York City Police Department previously leveraged K5 to help patrol Times Square’s subway station. However, the pilot program ended earlier this month, per The Guardian. Despite the city’s mayor, Eric Adams, praising the robot initially, it is unclear if the city will use the autonomous robot in the future.

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